Of all sports, sailing has to be one of my absolute favourites. So when I was invited up to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, I leapt at the chance.
Flying in over the Whitsundays is a spectacle in blues and greens and blazing white sand – and the brightly coloured spinnakers of yachts sailing around the islands. I was met at the airport by staff from the Qualia luxury resort, and whisked off to the hotel in an Audi S8 – growl! – to find my bags waiting for me in my pavilion nestled among the trees. The ‘pavilions’ are enormous, but still manage to give a relaxed, laid-back – very Australian – vibe. To have such quality service in the middle of tropical forest, is an incredible experience.
As was having my own Mr Porter buggy to get around in! With time to myself, I went paddle-boarding in the pristine water, looking for whales. Then, after a long bath and grooming I session headed to the Audi/Kylie Kwong dinner at Pebble Beach. Kylie’s food is so perfectly balanced, simple, wholesome and authentic. It’s always a treat.
After a relaxed breakfast on the beachfront, it was off on the paddle board once more. Then a quick duck into the Qualia Spa stocked full of my favourite Sodashi products. I really like the Clay Cleanser with Lime and the Calming Skin Boost gel (both smell strangely manly). Then to the Mr Porter x Charles Heidsieck lunch. It was very glam, some 250 people – a mix of locals, yachties, and a lot of Sydney and Melbourne types. I was wedged between Nicky Tindal (Nicky’s grandfather Bob Oatley is the grand patriarch, the owner of Hamilton Island, and of course the maxi yacht Wild Oats XI) and Alison Veness, editor or the Australian edition of 10 magazine – she’s always a pleasure)
After lunch I headed for a quick meditation/re-fuel at the pavilion, then to Pebble Beach for drinks on the sand, then out on Andiamo with drinks, DJ, a select gang. It wasn’t so much ‘gin palace’, more champagne and vodka and a group of the youngest, hippest and most adventurous on the Island – many of whom were finishing a week of Island racing before heading to Burning Man. This boat is built for entertaining – it’s wide, it’s flush from inside to outside, and it’s trimaran hull makes it very stable!
Race day! I headed out on Wild Oats XI. What a machine! This is the seven-time winner of the Sydney to Hobart, 100 ft of the highest tech, lightest weight, sailboat ever. It's like a giant sled, so fast! Skippered by legendary captain Mark Richards (who also created and founded Palm Beach Boats. Even Bob Oatley (aka Popeye) was aboard. When it comes to racing no one comes near Wild Oats, it was nearly lonely way out front there! Except for some whales teaching their calves some tricks. The fact the crew were so 'in sync' they were nearly silent added to that wonderful feeling of being alone on the ocean. Bliss.
Upon returning to dock, I headed out for a trail run up to Passage Peak (the highest point on the island, in fact, of the Whitsundays). I meditated on a rock looking over the islands and ran back for some quiet time in the pavilion before heading out for the Net-a-Porter fashion show. It was an incredible set up by The Projects with the catwalk going over the pool, great tunes, blazing beauties, and the clothes were good too! It was overall a pretty social event as you can imagine with a lot of lingering and chatting afterwards.
Thank you so much to Sophie Baker for inviting me, The Oatley Family, Qualia and Hamilton Island for making the stay a real gem. It was amazing to witness the Oatley vision in all its glory, it has to be seen to be believed.